Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ex-servicemen draw first blood

Ex-servicemen draw first blood

Ex-servicemen draw first blood

TNN, Mar 15, 2010, 06.11am IST
BANGALORE: Last year, they gave away their bravery medals and this year, they signed in blood. Ex-servicemen from across the country intensified their movement for `one rank one pension' in the form of rallies and signing a memorandum with blood, which will be sent to the Prime Minister.

At a protest rally organized on Sunday, over 250 ex-servicemen from different parts of the state gathered to protest. Similar rallies were also held in Mangalore, Udupi, Karwar, Belgaum and other areas.

The resentment among ex-servicemen is so high that in case their request is not accepted, they will launch a fast-unto-death campaign in October.

"We had no other option but to sign in blood to show how dissatisfied we are with the system. We will ensure our efforts are noticed. Both the serviceman who retired earlier and the ones retiring now will have medical problems. In fact, the ones who had retired earlier will have more problems. But there is almost a 50% difference between our pension amount. Is it justified?" asked Lt Col (retired) M A Kariappa.

"Families of soldiers live in an environment not understood by civilians. There is separation from family at an early age, education of children is affected, and a soldier serves with dignity and takes whatever the government offers to them. But after retirement, we feel neglected. We realize the government doesn't respect our service. We were promised free medical treatment but we got nothing. There is hardly any encouragement to send our children to the forces," added Col (retired) H Shenoy.

"The UPA government is in the hands of the IAS. In the wars to save the country, the heads of soldiers have rolled. How many IAS officers have laid their lives? It is time our MPs realize it is for them to legislate these things and not get misguided by IAS officers. Ex-servicemen today are a neglected lot," said convener, IESM, South, Col SS Rajan. The memorandum signed in blood will be handed over to chief minister B S Yedyurappa on Thursday.

Many of these ex-soldiers have worked in difficult conditions, high-altitude locations, and have lost friends in war and are handicapped due to battle injuries.

"We haven't served any less. We have gone to every difficult area... I had a bypass surgery, and my one kidney had failed. But soldiers don't cry," said Brigadier J S Narasimhan, one of the senior-most officers in the group, who had given up his Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) last year.

"I was part of the 1971 war in West Pakistan. I have seen my colleagues die, their legs blown off by land mines. We have great attachment with each other. But now I wonder how are people valuing the service," complained Lt Col (retired) S N Devdas.

The ones in lower ranks, such as the hawaldars, are the worst-affected. Their pensions are meagre and they sometimes can't find new jobs. This 81-year-old ex-hawaldar R Narayan gets Rs 5,561 as pension. "I have participated in two wars. Is this enough pension for me to survive? My wife passed away due to cancer. I don't want to be a burden on my daughter," he said.
Ex-servicemen draw first blood

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